RI ESG Briefing, June 14: Trillium engagement with J&J over ALEC conservative group

The round-up of environmental, social and governance news


The London School of Economics’ Grantham Institute on Climate Change has released a new report saying onshore wind power “clearly has a role” in supplying the UK’s future electricity needs – despite a number of “myths” about costs and reliability. The report is called The case for and against onshore wind energy in the UK.

Dutch bank Rabobank and the World Bank’s private finance group IFC have announced a $500m commodity-trade-finance facility to enable banks and companies in developing countries to finance more imports and exports. Both will contribute $250m to the three-year facility, part of the IFC’s new ‘Critical Commodities Finance Program’. Link

Meanwhile, the IFC has teamed up with Norway-based developer Scatec Solar AS plan to build utility-scale solar parks in west and central Africa, according to a statement. IFC InfraVentures and Scatec would finance, build and operate solar photovoltaic (PV) plants, with the first developments in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Niger and Togo.

The US Energy Department has announced a new interagency advisory committee to help support the transition of energy efficient technologies “from research and development to successful commercialization”. The Senior Executive Committee for Technology Deployment is a subcommittee of the Interagency Technology Deployment Working Group. Announcement


Dexia Asset Management, one of the pioneers of socially responsible investing in Europe that has been affected by uncertainty over its parent company, has released its Sustainability Report for 2011. It is available here

US Congresswoman Janice Schakowsky, an Illinois Democrat, has written to Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Schapiro calling on the SEC to determine if oil major Chevron is violating securities laws relating to the $18bn Ecuador pollution judgment. She said the SEC “should review whether Chevron has followed its legal obligations in informing current and potential investors about the risks to the company”.h6. Governance

Trillium Asset Management, the US sustainable funds firm, has welcomed consumer products giant Johnson & Johnson’s decision to withdraw from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the controversial conservative group. “Having been in dialogue with Johnson & Johnson about our concerns – expressly urging it to leave ALEC weeks ago – we commend the company on its prudent decision,” Trillium said.

The UK’s opposition Labour Party’s Shadow Business Secretary has welcomed the shareholder revolt over pay at advertising giant WPP. “It is very encouraging that shareholder activism is blossoming,” he said. “Where there is a disconnect between executive pay and performance, it is right for investors to flex their muscles.” The story led the main evening news bulletin on the BBC.

The new French government is reportedly planning to impose a “say on pay” system in the autumn. It would come as it has capped the salaries of the bosses of public enterprises at €450,000 and plans to present a bill to strengthen control on pay, L’Agefi reported.

Bankers’ bonuses in the European Union face being limited by law, according to a report in the Financial Times. It said bank lobbyists admit they have lost a contest against a European Parliament move to limit the size of bonuses relative to salary.

In the wake of the increased scrutiny on proxy advisory firms, there’s a profile of leading firm Glass Lewis, including an interview with CEO Katherine Rabin and co-founder Gregory Taxin, on the Reuters wire.

“Investors have sent a powerful message this year, serving notice that their views do matter, and it is one which I would expect companies to take to heart.” So says Richard Saunders, chief executive of the Investment Management Association, in a blog about the so-called ‘shareholder spring’ and the growth of stewardship.